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Chief Executive’s review

These results demonstrate the benefit of the rapid action we took to address the current economic conditions and highlight the benefits of our geographic diversity.

Financial review of the year

These financial results reflect the benefits of the actions we took to adjust to the deteriorating economic environment, in particular with respect to costs. We achieved results in line with all of the guidance ranges we issued in November 2008 and also generated free cash flow in line with the initial guidance range we established in May 2008, before the extent of the downturn became apparent.

During the year, Group revenue increased by 15.6% to £41.0 billion and by 1.3% on a pro forma basis, including India, which was acquired in May 2007. The Group’s EBITDA margin declined by 1.8 percentage points, in line with the first half and our expectations, one third of which was due to the impact of acquisitions and disposals, foreign exchange and business mix. Group adjusted operating profit increased by 16.7% to £11.8 billion, with a growing contribution from Verizon Wireless and foreign currency benefits offsetting weaker performance in Europe. At year end, Vodafone had 303 million proportionate mobile customers worldwide.

Cash generation remained robust, with free cash flow of £5.7 billion before licence and spectrum payments, up around 3%, with foreign currency benefits being offset by the deferral of a £0.2 billion dividend from Verizon Wireless, which was received in April 2009.

The economic downturn is affecting Vodafone in several ways. In our more mature European and Central European operations, voice and messaging revenue has declined, primarily driven by lower growth in usage and continued double digit price declines. Roaming revenue fell due to lower business and leisure travel. Enterprise revenue growth slowed as our business customers reduced activity and headcount. Double digit data revenue growth continued, as we actively market increasingly attractive network speeds, handsets and services into an under penetrated market. In contrast to Europe, results in Africa and India remained robust driven by continued but lower GDP growth and increasing penetration.

In Europe, organic service revenue declined by 1.7% reflecting the economy and a strongly competitive environment. Ongoing price pressures and lower volume growth in our core voice products are still being substantially offset by good growth in data. Europe EBITDA margins, including Common Functions, which substantially support our European operations, declined by 1.1 percentage points, driven by an increasing contribution from lower margin fixed broadband. Mobile contribution margins remained stable. Operating free cash flow before licence and spectrum payments was strong at £7.6 billion.

In Africa and Central Europe, organic revenue grew by 3.9%, with double digit revenue growth at Vodacom being offset by weakness in Turkey. After the year end, we completed our transaction with Telkom in South Africa and increased our ownership of Vodacom to 65%. EBITDA margins declined by around three percentage points, driven substantially by lower profitability in Turkey where, having appointed new management in early 2009, we will continue to implement our turnaround plan with a primary focus on network quality, distribution and competitive offers.

In Asia Pacific and Middle East, revenue increased by 19% on a pro forma basis, reflecting a strong contribution from India where revenue grew by 33% on a pro forma basis. During the 2009 financial year we added 24.6 million customers in India and ended the year with the highest rate of net additions in the market. In Egypt, revenue increased by 11.9% at constant exchange rates and EBITDA margins remained broadly flat. The EBITDA margin in the region declined by 3.7 percentage points, reflecting lower margins in India caused by the pricing environment, the impact of our IT outsourcing agreement and investment in new circles.

Dividends per share


Verizon Wireless posted another set of strong results. Organic service revenue growth was 10.5%, driven by increased customer penetration and data. In January 2009, Verizon Wireless completed its acquisition of Alltel which is expected to generate cost synergies with a net present value of over US$9 billion and makes Verizon Wireless the largest US mobile company with 87 million customers. During the year, we have deepened our commercial relationship with Verizon Wireless, which now contributes 30% of our adjusted operating profit, with joint initiatives around LTE technology, enterprise customers and BlackBerry devices.

The Group invested £5.9 billion in capital expenditure, including £1.4 billion in India to drive growth. Capital intensity in Europe was slightly above our 10% target as we took advantage of our strong cash generation to accelerate investment in broadband and higher speed capability on our networks in order to continue to support our strategy and improve our customers’ experience.

The Group incurred impairment charges of £5.9 billion in the financial year, the majority of which related to Spain.

Adjusted earnings per share increased by 37.4% to 17.17 pence, benefiting from a favourable foreign exchange environment and a one off tax benefit. Excluding these factors, adjusted earnings per share rose by around 3%.

In line with the Group’s progressive dividend policy, dividends per share have increased by 3.5% to 7.77 pence, reflecting the underlying earnings and cash performance of the Group.